Experts call for higher spending on education
Dubai, October 30, 2007
Limited facilities for learning foreign languages, low spending on education and lack of quality control mechanisms were the focus of discussion at a session on 'Improving Education in the Arab World' at the Knowledge Conference in Dubai.
Moderated by UAE-based academic Dr Rafia Ghobash, speakers at the session included regional coordinator for the higher education project of UNDP's Arab Regional Office Dr Issam Naquib and professor of Education Sciences at the Lebanese University Dr Adnan Al Amin.
In his paper, "Higher Education in the Arab World: Three Major Issues", Dr Naquib referred to the disparity in the use of Arabic and foreign languages while imparting knowledge.
"Lack of fluency in foreign languages hinders access to knowledge and contemporary developments. In order to overcome this challenge, priority should be given to learning foreign languages at the university level, while retaining Arabic as the medium of instruction," he added.
He also highlighted the need for higher spending on education and pointed out government officials and educationalists must play a more vital role in the management of higher education institutions with an increased focus on quality, adopting global teaching methods, and correcting weaknesses in primary, secondary and university education.
Dr Naquib claimed annual spending on one student was estimated at $2,000 for 90 per cent of Arab university students. In terms of specific programmes, the level of spending on interdisciplinary sciences, engineering and medicine is over $3,200 and less than $1,200 for social sciences.
Commenting on the issue of quality, he said higher education in most institutions including universities lack a credible self-evaluation and quality assurance process. He stressed on the urgent need for an independent, professional and transparent Arab body to ensure the quality and accreditation of higher learning institutes on par with international standards.
Organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the two-day conference at the Mina Salam in Dubai is the Foundation's first initiative since its launch in May this year. The event reflects the Foundation's mission to contribute to capacity building in the Arab world and drive the region into a new era of human development.- TradeArabia News Service